Published Oct 19, 2023
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Judge Gorland to begin hearing cases in January 2016. Judge Gorland received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor in 1985 from Wayne State University School of Law. From 1989 through 2015, Judge Gorland served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Detroit, as an assistant U.S. attorney in various capacities, including: first assistant U.S. attorney; chief, General Crimes Unit; deputy chief, and previously as assistant U.S. attorney, General Crimes Unit; assistant U.S. attorney, Economic Crimes Unit; and, as assistant U.S. attorney, Civil Division. From 1985 through 1989, Judge Gorland served as an associate for Pepper, Hamilton and Scheetz, in Detroit. Judge Gorland is a member of the State Bar of Michigan.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Gorland were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Gorland decided 889 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 319, granted 27 other types of relief, and denied relief to 543. Converted to percentage terms, Gorland denied 61.1 percent and granted 38.9 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Gorland's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Gorland's denial rate of 61.1 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Detroit Immigration Court where Judge Gorland decided these cases denied asylum 64.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Gorland's asylum grant and denial rates are compared with other judges serving on the same court in this table. Note that when an Immigration Judge serves on more than one court during the same period, separate Immigration Judge reports are created for any Court in which the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions.
Although denial rates are shaped by each Judge's judicial philosophy, denial rates are also shaped by other factors, such as the types of cases on the Judge's docket, the detained status of immigrant respondents, current immigration policies, and other factors beyond an individual Judge's control. For example, TRAC has previously found that legal representation and the nationality of the asylum seeker are just two factors that appear to impact asylum decision outcomes.
The composition of cases may differ significantly between Immigration Courts in the country. Within a single Court when cases are randomly assigned to judges sitting on that Court, each Judge should have roughly a similar composition of cases given a sufficient number of asylum cases. Then variations in asylum decisions among Judges on the same Immigration Court would appear to reflect, at least in part, the judicial philosophy that the Judge brings to the bench. However, if judges within a Court are assigned to specialized dockets or hearing locations, then case compositions are likely to continue to differ and can contribute to differences in asylum denial rates.
When asylum seekers are not represented by an attorney, almost all of them (80%) are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Gorland, 11.5% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% of asylum seekers are not represented.
Asylum seekers are a diverse group. Over one hundred different nationalities had at least one hundred individuals claiming asylum decided during this period. As might be expected, immigration courts located in different parts of the country tend to have proportionately larger shares from some countries than from others. And, given the required legal grounds for a successful asylum claim, asylum seekers from some nations tend to be more successful than others.
The largest group of asylum seekers appearing before Judge Gorland came from Guatemala. Individuals from this country made up 21.8% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Gorland were: Honduras (15.5%), El Salvador (11.9%), Mexico (9.1%), Iraq (6.7%). See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were El Salvador (16.6%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (13.8%), Mexico (9.2%), China (6.8%), India (5.1%), Venezuela (3.2%), Ecuador (3.1%), Cuba (2.4%), Nicaragua (2.3%), Brazil (2.0%), Colombia (1.4%), Cameroon (1.4%).